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detail of The Farm, Evening by Henri-Edmond Cross, oil on canvas, 1893

Insights on Vocation

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C. S. Lewis

A vocation is a terrible thing. To be called out of nature into the supernatural life is at first (or perhaps not quite at first – the wrench of the parting may be felt later) a costly honour. Even to be called from one natural level to another is loss as well as gain. Man has difficulties and sorrows which the other primates escape. But to be called up higher still costs still more.

Thérèse of Lisieux

I opened, one day, the Epistles of St. Paul to seek relief in my sufferings. My eyes fell on the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. I read that all cannot become Apostles, Prophets, and Doctors; that the Church is composed of different members; that the eye cannot also be the hand. The answer was clear, but it did not fulfill my desires, or give to me the peace I sought. “Then descending into the depths of my nothingness, I was so lifted up that I reached my aim” (Saint John of the Cross).

Without being discouraged I read on, and found comfort in this counsel: “Be zealous for the better gifts. And I show unto you a yet more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31). The Apostle then explains how all perfect gifts are nothing without Love. …

Then, beside myself with joy, I cried, ‘O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! … In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! Thus shall I be all things.”

Mother Teresa

Our vocation is nothing else but to belong to Christ. The work that we do is only a means to put our love for Christ into living action.

All the religious congregations – nuns, priests, even the Holy Father – all have the same vocation: to belong to Jesus. “I have chosen you to be mine.” That’s our vocation. Our means, how we spend our time, may be different. Our love for Jesus in action is only the means, just like clothes. I wear this, you wear that: It’s a means. But a vocation is not a means. Vocation, for a Christian, is Jesus.

We all have been called by God. As missionaries we must be carriers of God’s love, ready to go in haste, like Mary, in search of souls; burning lights that give light to all men; the salt of the earth; souls consumed with one desire: Jesus.

The Farm, Evening by Henri-Edmond Cross, oil on canvas, 1893

Henri-Edmond Cross, The Farm, Evening, oil on canvas, 1893 (Public Domain)


Sources: C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (Geoffrey Bles, 1958), 131; Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, trans. Thomas Taylor (Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1912), chapter 11; Mother Teresa, No Greater Love (New World Library, 2016), 147.

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